A Polish court on Thursday ordered anti-communist icon Lech Walesa to publicly apologise to arch-rival Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the powerful leader of the governing rightwing party, for saying he was responsible for the deadly 2010 crash of a presidential jet in Russia.
Kaczynski lodged a defamation suit against Walesa over claims that he had insisted the jet land in heavy fog on a derelict airstrip and was therefore responsible for the crash that killed then president Lech Kaczynski, his identical twin, and all 95 others.
The disaster occurred as the presidential delegation was heading to a commemoration in Russia’s Katyn forest for thousands of Polish army officers killed by Soviet secret police in 1940 — a massacre the Kremlin denied until 1990.
Gdansk district court justice Weronika Klawonn found there was no evidence for Walesa’s accusation and ordered him to issue a public apology to Kaczynski. But she denied Kaczynski’s request for 30,000 zloty (7,000 euros, $7,900) in damages.
“Freedom of speech is not an absolute freedom, one of its limits is the protection of one’s own reputation,” Klawonn said in her verdict.